| A broker conducts puja to usher in the new year at the Calcutta Stock Exchange on Saturday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury
Mumbai, Oct. 25: Hema Malini’s magic did not work all the way — the Bombay Stock Exchange opened and remained firm on the moorat trading day but the bellwether index did not go anywhere near the 5000-mark. All those die-hard optimists who expected the sensex to vault past the magic figure today in the presence of the Bollywood Dream Girl were disappointed but not disheartened.
They had reasons to be optimistic: when Hema was worshipping Goddess Lakshmi for the prosperity of equity investors, the man who can really turn the wheel of fortune during Samvat 2060 was standing close by and watching the high-voltage proceedings with interest.
Maintaining a very low profile during the ceremony, S. Ramadorai, chief executive officer of the Rs 5012-crore ($1.4 billion) Tata Consultancy Services, the biggest computer software company in the country, was present along with his wife Mala.
Wearing a formal striped shirt, unlike the business suits that he often wears, Ramadorai stood there soaking in the ambience, maybe conscious about the fact that one day he may take centre stage when the much-speculated TCS public issue makes its debut.
Hema Malini, came a little late, usual for film stars, as brokers waited anxiously, eager to get back to their offices for puja and trading. The moorat trading saw attractive volumes as exchange officials decided to club the trades with the coming Monday’s settlement.
The matter-of-fact BSE brokers were less enamoured by Hema’s presence. “There is your man (pointing at Ramadorai). This year’s biggest story,” said a BSE broker but kept away from the man who preferred to stay aloof.
Asked whether he will make the biggest story for the markets, Ramadorai just laughed.
“No comments,” was his reply with a gentle pat on the reporter’s back when he was prodded whether the issue will be floated this financial year.
Trying to divert the talk from the mega issue, Ramadorai insisted that “I am here because of our association with BSE.”
“You see, we have provided the technological support through CMC Ltd,” the computer technology company that was taken over by the Tatas some years ago.
“And I was here when BSE celebrated its 125th anniversary,” Ramadorai said in an effort to dispel any speculation that the proposed TCS flotation brought him to Pheroze Jeejeebhoy Towers.
Asked when he would return to BSE to ring the symbolic bell when TCS debuts on the bourses, Ramadorai remained mum.
Some months ago in an interview to a business daily, Tata group chairman Ratan Tata had indicated that the country’s largest software firm would complete a prospectus within six weeks but a possible stock offering would not take place until the end of the year.
An initial public offering could value TCS at Rs 32,500 crore, more than the value of the group’s 29 listed companies. A flotation of even a 10 per cent stake could rival the Reliance issue in 1993 as the nation’s biggest deal ever and would be three times that of Maruti’s Rs 993-crore initial public offer made this year.
For Ramadorai, the heartening news is that the sensex gained almost a percentage point today and closed at 4802.28, a rise of 44.91 points.
The BSE teck stock, where TCS will figure when it gets listed, also saw an impressive rise of 9.13 points to 1033.44.
“The recent turnaround of technology companies is a good sign,” said a BSE broker.
While Ramadorai preferred to stay aloof, TV cameras had their lenses fixed on Hema Malini. “I am happy to be here. This is the place where the country’s wealth is created. So much wealth that you enrich not only yourself, but our society also.”
Our professions have a lot of similarities, she told the brokers. “Artists entertain people giving them happiness and you as financial experts create so much wealth and so much joy.”
She also promised that as a member of the Rajya Sabha she will try to understand the problems associated with the financial markets and contribute to the policy decisions of the government.
And before Hema Malini left Dalal Street she had a piece of advice for the brokers: “The wealth you have created should be for a higher objective, it should be for the good of the country,” she said, obviously reminding them of the financial scams that have often succeeded bull runs.